We Split the Cost of the Engagement Ring—and Have No Regrets

My statement for the defense.

Is splitting the cost of an engagement ring becoming a thing?

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Last week, when Philadelphia Wedding asked if splitting the cost of an engagement ring is becoming a thing, I knew I would have to write for the defense when I started to see responses like “Maybe I’ll just marry myself!” and “What is happening to manhood?” {Ed. Note: Jack is one of our digital editors here at Philly mag, and therefore saw each and every one of the Facebook comments that story brought in.}

Be Well Philly editor Emily Leaman said “It cheapens the proposal—both literally and figuratively,” and Philadelphia Wedding editor Carrie Denny agreed that the woman splitting the cost seemed to take something away from it. But ladies, I am here to tell you that it can be done—and that it’s time to get comfortable with it.


To set the scene: I had been dating Emma for over five years, we lived together, and we’d talked about shopping for a ring together. But it was still a nice little surprise  when I suggested we actually go do it.

Of course I wanted her there with me: There are so many decisions to make, from cut to shape to color, and I didn’t want to inflict my bad sense of style on something that so many of our friends and family would focus in on for the next year. An engagement ring isn’t something that can be returned easily and unemotionally. Why not give her the chance to pick out exactly what she wants?

We went to four different jewelers to look at diamonds and bands before we found “the one.” Emma knew how much the jeweler was asking for the ring she wanted, and she also knew how much money I had in the bank. When she asked if it was OK with me if she paid for a portion of the ring, I agreed to take her donation, and I didn’t feel weird about it. She already pays more towards rent because she makes more money than I do (thanks, liberal arts education!). We didn't split it right down the middle; I still paid for a larger proportion of the ring, so I felt like I’d done my manly duty, but I also knew that because of this arrangement, she was getting something she would always love wearing.

“But what about the surprise?” you ask? No, I didn’t get down on one knee in the jewelry store. After we picked out the ring, she wrote me a check and I cashed it immediately. Then I went back and dropped off a deposit at the store every week on my way home from work. She didn’t know when I had paid it off or when it was coming. So when I snuck her friends and family­­­ into Philly one night in August and proposed, she had no idea, and everything was perfect. I would not have changed a thing, and neither would she.

Isn’t the point of the ring that it is one of the only tangible symbols we have of the commitment to spend your life with one person? Take your time and get something that you will want to keep forever, so you can always look at it and remember being young and in love. There are only a few moments in life where you and your partner suddenly realize how bright your future is. Finding the ring together is one extra time that we got to have that feeling. We shared the cost of the ring just like we share everything else in our lives. We know we’re stronger when we face things together, and that’s what’s really important.

So start getting used to the idea of sharing the cost of an engagement ring. More young adults graduate from college to take unpaid internships and face years of debt. More employers are paying women as much as men. More couples live together before getting married. And the result of our shared experience is that we’re more open to communicate with each other about subjects ranging from our finances to our hopes and dreams for the future.

I don’t think it’s the end of manhood at all. I think it’s progress.

RELATED: Is Splitting the Cost of the Engagement Ring Becoming a Thing? 

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  • Kleinfeldter

    Wow Jack. You can’t ever unpublished this. How embarrassing.

  • CervezaJen™

    I’d much rather have a ring my fiance can afford.

  • angie

    While the reasoning for both individuals to invest in an engagement ring is understandable, particularly in the situation described, there needn’t be so much emphasis placed on a thing. Personally, I fell in love with a vintage ring during a preliminary search. Okay, maybe I named her and became a little obsessed. It was like nothing I’d ever seen or touched and, after checking out a few jewelers, including the most acclaimed ethical one in this big little small city, Sally was a fraction of the cost of anything I could have made in a similar fashion. I’m not kidding. The ring I love and am proud of was about 1/5 of the estimated cost to make something near similar. (It would have been WAY smaller, though.)
    Big up to the author for wanting his partner to be happy with her ring, and since she was more than okay pitching in, good for the both of you. However, to suggest people “start getting used to it” is a bit silly. And backward. Why can’t we start removing value from material possessions only popularized in a post-modern world, largely due to media? This piece mentions friends and family also weighing the ring heavily for the duration of the engagement, but that’s all consumerist and sad. I respectfully propose that, instead of getting used to the idea of sharing an exorbitant cost for this THING that doesn’t really live up to the hype, couples reevaluate what is most important and a better return on investment, particularly in the beginning of a shared life.

  • Sarah

    I recently spoke with a friend whose fiancé was requesting a ring completely outside his (their) budget. He thought it was ludicrous and even I (a fashion loving female AND former jeweler) agreed. It’s 2013. While your fiancé deserves something she’ll love wearing for the rest of your life she also shouldn’t want to put you (both) in debt for it. Like anything you buy in life you have to live within your means. I would be happy with a ring from a Cracker Jack box but if I found a ring I absolutely loved and it was outside our budget I would GLADLY pay for a part of it. I am proud of the work I do and the support I provide our relationship. It’s 2013 people and being financially responsible does not mean chivalry is dead.